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San Miguel Beer banked heavily on its championship experience to trounce Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 101-72, in Game 4 of their semifinal series and force a do-or-die match in the PBA Governors’ Cup playoffs last night at the packed Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Marcio Lassiter breathed life to SMB’s campaign by firing 23 points, 14 of which came in a pivotal second quarter run while 6-foot-10 MVP June Mar Fajardo contributed 17 points and 16 rebounds in another performance that boosted his bid for a record third straight MVP plum.
The starters of San Miguel were equally impressive as import Elijah Millsap added 13 points and 17 rebounds, Alex Cabagnot 13 points and former MVP Arwind Santos registering 13 points and nine boards.
Majority of the 22,196 spectators were left disappointed with the way Ginebra played – no thanks to the Beermen’s relentless assault – not to mention the defense they put up that pushed the Kings out of their comfort zone.
The deciding Game 5 will be played tomorrow also at the Big Dome.
Meanwhile, Meralco tries to deliver the knockout punch on TNT KaTropa as it seeks the first finals berth in Game 4 of their own semis series.
The game between Meralco and TNT is set at 7 p.m. with the former out to accomplish half of their mission – winning the championship.
As if he was staging a shooting clinic, Lassiter scored 11 straight points to start the quarter as went 4-of-5 from three-point territory.
From an eight-point advantage after the first period, 30-22, the lead ballooned to 48-22 on Lassiter’s three-point shot at the 4:35 mark of the period, where SMB went 10-of-22 (45%) from the perimeter.
In sharp contrast, Ginebra shot poorly, making only 2 of 21 attempts from the field that all but stalled their finals bid.
The team’s pair of field goals came from a triple by LA Tenorio, which happened with 4:01 left for the team’s first basket, and a jump shot by Jervy Cruz. SMB was ahead, 55-29, at the break.
SMB’s posted its biggest lead at 33 points, 87-54, early in the final frame on two foul shots by Ryan Arana.
“I’m so thankful we’re able to tie the series,” said SMB coach Leo Austria. “We’re playing hard, everybody wants to win. We’ve been there (behind) so many times, it’s an urgent matter for the players.”
“Hopefully the momentum will carry us (to a win) Game 5,” added Austria, whose team rallied back from a 0-3 deficit in a best-of-seven finals series against Alaska to win the Philippine Cup.
Best Import contender Justin Brownlee led Ginebra with 28 points, but he got little help as only LA Tenorio scored in double-digit with 17 points.
SAN MIGUEL 101 – Lassiter 25, Fajardo 17, Cabagnot 13, Millsap 13, Santos 13, Ross 9, Arana 3, De Ocampo 2, Espinas 2, Heruela 2, Mabulac 2, David 0, Reyes 0, Semerad 0, Tubid 0.
GINEBRA 72 – Brownlee 28, Tenorio 17, Devance 6, Cruz 5, Caguioa 4, Marcelo 4, Helterbrand 3, Bonifacio 2, Salva 2, Aguilar 1, Mariano 0, Mercado 0, Thompson 0.
Quarters: 30-22, 55-29, 82-52, 101-72.